When I came to Monterey County to assume the interim presidency of Cal State Monterey Bay last summer, it quickly became apparent to me that this is a community that cares very much about its children.
The school districts are focused on producing the best possible educational outcomes. Their efforts are augmented by a number of social service agencies and non-profits who are working every day to improve the outlook for our young people.
The question here, as it in communities from coast to coast, is how to coordinate those wide-ranging efforts to have the most positive impact. A strategy that is succeeding in a number of communities nationwide is the Strive Network.
The network’s motto is “Every Child. Cradle to Career.” Strive Network communities promote a broad commitment among agencies to work together to achieve agreed-upon goals for student success.
The concept was first explored in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky in 2006. Nancy Zimpher, then the president of the University of Cincinnati, helped spearhead the effort.
An article in the winter 2011 edition of the Stanford Social Innovation Review entitled “Collective Impact” outlined the rationale for a unified community approach: “These leaders realized that fixing one point on the educational continuum—such as better after-school programs—wouldn’t make much difference unless all parts of the continuum improved at the same time. No single organization, however innovative or powerful, could accomplish this alone. Instead, their ambitious mission became to coordinate improvements at every stage of a young person’s life, from ‘cradle to career.’”
For example, I have spoken often about the need to increase our nation’s college graduation rates. To accomplish that, coordination is essential. Only a limited amount can be done by colleges or universities alone, or by high schools, or by middle and elementary schools, or by social service agencies. Improved college completion rates require broad systemic changes -- a community-based approach. That is collective impact.
Last month, Dr. Zimpher, who is now chancellor of the State University of New York, visited Cal State Monterey Bay to discuss her experiences with a group of local education and social service leaders.
She outlined four principles that help make the networks successful.
• A shared community vision.
• Evidence-based decision-making
• Collaborative action
• Investment in a sustainable governing structure.
Dr. Zimpher stressed the need to focus on a defined set of goals with benchmarks. Some communities seek to improve kindergarten readiness, and focus on specific measures of progress at other critical points during K-12 education. Other initiatives target high school dropout rates, rates of school absence, or readiness among high school graduates to attend college. Others focus all their attention on a single neighborhood that is particularly at-risk.
In all cases, Dr. Zimpher said it is important to keep the community informed through regular reports on where the initiatives are showing progress and where they are falling short.
Judging from the response to Dr. Zimpher’s presentation and the feedback I have received since, there is a great interest in forming a Strive Network in this area. This an exciting initiative that has real promise for our community, and I will keep you informed about developments as it moves forward.
I was in Washington, D.C. this week for the announcement of a $1.1 million grant to Hartnell College and Cal State Monterey Bay to support our new three-year degree program in Computer Science and Information Technology, CSIT-in-3.
The five-year grant results from a partnership among the National Science Foundation, General Electric and Intel. It will allow us to provide additional student support in a program that is already attracting great interest from students and from education policy-makers.
The CSIT-in-3 program addresses the need to educate more computer science and engineering students and places those students on a fast-track to graduate. It also shows the power of collaboration; we at Cal State Monterey Bay have been pleased to work so closely with our colleagues at Hartnell to make this program a reality.
Otter athletes shine
It has been an outstanding spring season for Otter athletics. The Otter baseball team completed an impressive run through the regular season by defeating UC San Diego Sunday to win the program’s first regular season CCAA championship. Now it is participating in the conference tournament.
The men’s golf team added the championship in the NCAA Division II South Central/West Regional this week, after winning both individual and team titles at the CCAA championship tournament last month. The team will now participate in the NCAA Division II national championships held in Pennsylvania later this month.
I have had the opportunity to attend a number of Otter athletic events during the past year and I always come away with a positive feeling about the enthusiastic support our teams receive from the campus and the community. Division II athletics truly focuses on the student-athlete, and the successes of our Otters are a great source of pride for our campus.
As always, I welcome your comments on this newsletter or on any issues facing the university. You may direct them to firstname.lastname@example.org